So many Southland women - members of Rural Women, Women's Institute, Catholic Women's League, National Council of Women - treasure a verse written for them by Val O'Brien.
She was a poet among us, able to turn out a verse that was a comfort, a song like a prayer, a thought that became a smile.
Whatever the occasion, she could lighten the grief, add emphasis with humour, defuse the tension. Anzac Day and Christmas, someone's birthday, someone else's time of loss - her words were there, kept, treasured.
Val O'Brien died last week at Calvary her home for the past four years, three of them without her late husband Ray.
They'd met at a country dance. He'd been nudged in one direction, urged to ask a certain girl, but his eye fell on Val and he asked her.
His mate said he had the wrong one.
"She'll do," he said - a phrase that was to haunt him in family jokes lifelong.
She did indeed do.
They celebrated close on 60 years together with their eight surviving children and their families, and memories of Danny the bachelor lad lost to them in 1987 at just 26.
Val was born in the Waddell family at Wyndham the youngest of six girls, only one of whom, Rona Waddell at Parata house in Gore, survives her.
For most of their family life the O'Briens lived at Makarewa, Ray employed at the freezing works, their family growing and going - all over New Zealand and one to Australia.
All but Paddy, international rugby referee and self-avowed Mammy's boy.
"That's me; that would be right," he agrees.
He has lived 50 of his 54 years within 10 minutes of his "mammy", spending time every day with her at Calvary since the death of Ray.
A prolific producer of poetry, sketches and skits, Mrs O'Brien did serious research and writing while on the executive of the Southland branch of National Council of Women of New Zealand.
Current Southland branch president Lyn Devery said work done in the 1980s and 1990s was the basis of what is studied now.
Mrs O'Brien took part in many discussions, wrote replies to remits to the government on issues concerning women and families, undertaking detailed research of women and family life in the 1920-1950 period.
Her concern for women and children and family life was at the basis of all she did.
A woman of great faith, she would have been delighted at her Requiem Mass last Thursday celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in Waikiwi by the Catholic bishop of Dunedin, Colin, leading a flotilla of eight white robed diocesan priests.
Mrs O'Brien leaves her eight surviving children: Anne Finn, Rangiora; Margot Wilson, Blenheim; Kevin, Port Chalmers; Casey, Melbourne; Paddy, Invercargill; Gabrielle, Wellington; Tim, Napier; and Jeremy in Auckland, and 26 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
And leaves in her writing little notes and poems of love and memory and comfort - smiles for the future.
- © Fairfax NZ News